Like most web developers, I prefer to save time by automating repetitive tasks. For example, deploying code to production.

Laziness is a trait of a good developer.

When I started to use WordPress again, I WAS NOT excited about using FTP to ship off changes to my theme. I wanted a simple and easy use process to deploy updates to my theme and also automate a few processes that I needed to support as part of using Sass and Compass to create my CSS styles.

What’s the alternative? FTP? Nope. Using rsync and typing the rsync command by hand each time? Nope again.

This is a simple Rakefile I wrote that helps me to do all this in simple and concise manner.


  • Clear and generate tasks that clear and generate new styles using Sass and Compass CLI methods
  • A deploy task that clears the styles, generates new styles and then finally deploys the theme using Rsync
require "rubygems"
require "bundler"

# Settings for Compass and rsync deployment
css_dir               = "sass"
theme                 = "theme-name"
ssh_user              = "" # for rsync deployment
remote_root           = "~/path/to/remote/" # for rsync deployment

namespace :styles do
  desc "Clear the styles"
  task :clear => ["compile:clear"]
  desc "Compile new styles"
  task :compile => ["compile:default"]

  namespace :compile do
    task :clear do
      puts "*** Clearing styles ***"
      system "rm -Rfv #{css_dir}/*"

    task :default => :clear do
      puts "*** Compiling styles ***"
      system "compass compile"

    desc "Compile new styles for production"
    task :production => :clear do
      puts "*** Compiling styles ***"
      system "compass compile --output-style compressed --force"


desc "Clears and generates new styles, builds and deploys"
task :deploy do
  puts "*** Deploying the site ***"
  system "rsync -avz --delete . #{ssh_user}:#{remote_root}/wp-content/themes/#{theme}/"

The entire Rakefile is 45 lines and simple to use. Besides, typing rake deploy is much simpler than what most WordPress users are doing to deploy updates to their theme. Capistrano could work, but it’s a bit of an over-kill for me. The simplicity of Rsync is a much better fit and works perfectly. Also, the use of the --delete option ensures that files that don’t exist on the sending side get deleted. In a nutshell, rsync keeps it simple and easy to use.

This Rakefile is a bit opinionated and assumes you’re using Sass and Compass … aka The Sass Way.